Contemplating Cancer

As a young child I remember hearing my grandparents and other relatives speak in a dismal tone about others who had cancer.  Occasionally, during Sunday’s church sermon, the preacher would ask the congregation to pray for certain people with cancer. Although I did not fully understand what cancer was, I knew it was something bad. As children, we hear these things but they seem to bounce off because we are not psychologically equipped to interpret or to understand.

The day cancer came calling on my family was when my Grandaddy received news that he had advanced stage lung cancer, given a few months and told to get his affairs in IMG_4115 (1)order.  My parents didn’t tell us everything, just that he had cancer.  I knew that word and I was scared. He worked on the pipeline and was a smoker, had been for as far back as I could remember.  We had a close relationship, probably because I was a tomboy who loved fishing and helping him in the garden.  Even with my tomboy ways he still called me Miss America. There were seven grandchildren, three girls and four boys – he made us all feel special.  Initially, it had been left arm and back pain that prompted him to see a doctor. At first, he remained at home but after a few weeks, he was admitted to the hospital.  My parents had been divorced a few years so it was my Mama that took us to visit him.  We entered his room and for a brief moment, I thought we were in the wrong room – where was my Grandaddy.  Feelings of guilt and shame engulfed me – I hadn’t recognized him without his glasses.  He managed to speak to us in a dry, weak voice.  We stayed awhile, telling him about school and him going through motions of eating an imaginary sausage, saying how delicious it was.  Even though he was physically present, cognitively he was absent.  A few days later, he was gone – cancer had taken him.

Years later, I would hear the “C” word again.  It was right around my 40th birthday and this time it was me that had cancer.  Hearing the news did not cause panic or rivers of tears.  All I knew was that fighting cancer had to become my full-time job.  To make a long story short, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery were completed followed by ten years of disease-free living.  That was until early in 2017.  This time the diagnosis was metastatic, treatable and non-aggressive.  Basically, this is something I will live with for the rest of my life but leads up to the point I want to make.

kermit2Pondering, daydreaming and brainstorming are things that take up a lot of my time.  Lately, I have been thinking about cancer.  Not in a bad-worried kind of way but in a curious-inquisitive kind of way.  Random questions pop into my head, questions that require some sort of answers.  Unfortunately, not all questions have answers.  One thing that peaks my curiosity is people who eat a healthy diet, exercise and strive to do everything right are diagnosed with cancers.  Makes me wonder – What is REALLY right?….and What is REALLY wrong?

Also, makes me question my own cancer – Was is something I did?  My diet choices have not been tragic nor have they been perfect, I am active and have consistently maintained a healthy weight.  As an active reader, it seems that everything we eat and everything we do causes cancer.  Are scientists and researchers really close to finding a cure or are they randomly guessing? Is the plan to keep us all medicated and under their control?  Unfortunately, most proven natural medicines that work are illegal in most places so we are at the mercy of their poisonous pharmaceuticals.  This essentially applies not only to chemotherapy drugs but all drugs.

The past two semesters (Environmental Science: Health and Safety) we referred quite frequently to routes of exposure – ingestion, inhalation, injection, and absorption which made me more curious about the things that I have personally done or been exposed to. That’s when I began making a list. Was it from or related to —

  • Food and Water Supply
  • Vitamins and Supplements
  • Childhood vaccinations
  • Silver Dental Fillings
  • Birth Control Pills or Mammograms
  • Household Cleaners
  • Laundry Soap, Dryer Sheets, and Dish Soap
  • Personal Care Products (toothpaste, hair products, lotions, nail care products, soaps, makeup, hair color)
  • Sun exposure, Tanning Beds, Lotions
  • Asbestos or Building Materials in my Schools/Homes
  • Pollution (we lived within 50 miles of a major city and oil refineries}
  • BPA’s in Plastic and Canned Food
  • Occupational Hazards (spraying pesticides, handling oil-based chemicals)
  • Alcohol and Cigarette Smoke
  • Not Wearing Gloves/Masks when I should have
  • Having Indoor Pets (and what they track  in)
  • Oil Painting
  • Constant worry, stress, and effects of unhealthy relationships
  • Moderate Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Lack of Quality Sleep

planet b…and that is just scratching the surface.  There are so many variables.  In reality, I did nothing more or less than the majority of the population.  The exposures are limitless.  Maybe I did take for granted that products were safe.  Maybe sometimes being in a hurry, time was not taken to use the appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE).  Maybe……??

Being older and wiser, there are things I can do to protect the earth as well as myself.  Right now it is ‘baby steps’ but moving in the right direction feels better than not doing anything at all.  Bottled water no longer enters our home, the excess packaging is considered when purchasing products and time is taken to read labels on everything.  For now, I am continuing to take my ‘poison’ for cancer but am aggressively researching other options.  It is my belief that cancer is curable with natural medicine and a healthy, positive lifestyle.  Even though these small things may seem insignificant they make me feel as though I am making a difference in some teeny way.  I have cancer and I will never know why or what caused it to happen.  All I can do is live my best life and give my best to our planet while I am here.

If anyone can recommend websites or other sources of information on natural living it would be most appreciated.  

The American Cancer Society has a very helpful website if you would like further info.  To get there CLICK HERE.

It’s going to be a great day.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bottom line – cancer doesn’ t discriminate. I truly believe there is nothing that could have been done differently. We can’t control. We all live Canopy of cancer.

 

My Story

In the beginning….
It was April of 2006 and a tropical storm had me trapped indoors cleaning and organizing the house.  After working all day a nice hot shower sounded awesome.  Just as I was starting to relax I noticed an area of my left breast felt unusual and was painful as I traced it with my fingertips. Wonderful, I thought to myself.  Because of the weather there was no other option than to wait. This particular storm lasted two more days, at which time the search for a physician began and let me tell you, this wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. The first few physicians I contacted were booked months into the future and others weren’t accepting new patients. Despite informing the office staff as to the reason I was seeking consultation, they were firm turning me away. Desperate for answers I headed to the emergency room. Reception promptly checked me in and within a minutes I was being seen by the attending physician. After the initial examination a mammogram and ultrasound were ordered and performed that day. Within the hour we had results which showed a mass and received a referral. I was able to schedule an appointment the same week. The morning of my appointment I mentally prepared myself for the worst news possible. The physician was very thorough in obtaining my history, ordering a chest x-ray, EKG as well as complete bloodwork. He performed a core biopsy in the office that same day which was extremely painful and made me scream obscenities. He informed me that the results would be available the next day and so I scheduled a follow-up appointment.
It seems like yesterday (2006) hearing that I had breast cancer, or in more definitive medical terms, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) ER+/PR+. At first, the news was overwhelming but I entered ‘work mode’ and decided the best coping strategy was to make cancer my full-time job. I found an oncologist and hospital that made me feel comfortable, battled through chemotherapy (Cytoxan/Taxotere), radiation, lumpectomy with removal of lymph nodes, total hair loss, crappy wigs and five years of Tamoxifen. I made changes to my diet and lifestyle because I was determined to beat this disease. At first, it was easy to follow the strict goals I had set for myself but after a couple of years of having tests show no sign of disease, I started allowing myself occasional indulgences. We are all aware that once the ball starts rolling downhill it’s hard to stop it. I traveled a bit, did whatever I wanted, met and married my best friend and relocated to West Texas. This meant finding a new medical team which I did. A little over ten years had passed with no sign of disease, then in April of 2015, my routine chest x-ray showed bilateral lung spots and a lung biopsy was ordered. The procedure was explained and I was afraid for the first time. Again I mentally prepared myself and arrived for the procedure. A nurse gave me a mild sedative for anxiety, started an IV and went to let the doctor know I was ready. He entered the room and told me it would be risky to biopsy these spots as they were too small. His discharge instructions were to repeat the chest x-rays regularly to monitor changes in my lungs. A lot changed during the next few months. I was experiencing shortness of breath on minimal exertion, coughing and difficulty swallowing. I found a physician, made an appointment, further tests including a bone scan, CT of the chest and CT the abdomen were ordered which I did. Results of these tests revealed areas of concern on my hip bones, spine, lungs and liver in addition to pleural fluid on both lungs. I must say that this particular physician’s manner was dismal. While explaining my results to me he basically appeared amazed that I was able to walk into his office in my condition. He recommended thoracentesis to drain the pleural fluid. At that moment it was decided to change hospitals and physicians. After much research I debated on travelling back to the Houston where I’d been treated initially in 2006 but was lucky to have found a great team in Dallas that I am very comfortable with. After reviewing my records and test results, we scheduled thoracentesis and hip bone biopsy. When I returned for my follow-up visit she informed me that my cancer had metastasized to my hip, lungs, and spine. Fortunately, it was determined that the spots on my liver were nothing more spots. It was also determined to be non-aggressive at this point. Oral chemotherapy (Ibrance) and an aromatase inhibitor (Letrozole) were prescribed which I will take until it stops working at which time I will begin again with another drug as this disease is something that supposedly lasts forever.
My personal belief is that cancer doesn’t have to be a forever disease and can be treated naturally through healthy diet and lifestyle. I believe it can be controlled or reversed without the use of carcinogenic pharmaceuticals, however, those options are either unavailable to us, advised against or are illegal which is very sad.
IMG_5476 (1)Currently, I am working toward my Associates degree in Environmental Science: Health and Safety.  My days are spent feeling great, doing the things I love, spending time with my husband, painting, photography, writing, cooking, gardening and reading.  I have a small but awesome support system which is so important. Goals for the future include obtaining my Bachelor’s degree, traveling more, continue writing to inspire others and perhaps even write a book. I intend on living a long, healthy, positive life. The best advice I can give is to stay positive, live a healthy lifestyle, find beauty in the smallest of things and create something every day.
….A Happy Ending